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Public Diplomacy

Directorates General (DGs)

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The work of the delegations in promoting communications with citizens of countries outside the European Union is further developed by the Directorates General with external responsibility. According to Philip Fiske de Gouveia and Hester Plumridge, the DGs and their information and communications’ units are “in fact, the key actors in EU public diplomacy in third-countries�? .

Being the primary foreign policy directorate, the DG External Relations (better known as the DG RELEX ) plays a central role in public diplomacy efforts. It disposes of an annual communication budget in the amount of 7 million Euro. The DG RELEX works closely with the Commissioner for External Relations and the other DGs with external remit such as Development, Trade, ECHO etc. This DG directs the European Neighborhood policy and Euromed, as well as all the Commission’s Delegations. It is the DG External Relations’ responsibility to make sure that the overall projection of the Commission is coherent and that there is a unified approach to shaping its image abroad.

The DG Development has a significant public diplomacy potential since the EU has provided generous amounts of foreign aid to developing countries. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been active enough in promoting EU aid visibility. For this purpose the DG Development Information and Communication Unit has adopted an external Information and Communication Strategy 2005 – 2009 and started an information campaign on its support to the Millennium Development Goals (MGDs) called “Europe Cares.�? The overall purpose of this campaign is to “address wide-spread ignorance about the EU’s position as the world’s most significant aid donor with activities promoting development objectives across the globe�?

The “Europe Cares�? campaign will make use of the Internet and other media for its promotion campaign. “The European Commission has launched a temporary website www.europe-cares.org and will show audiovisual spots on major European airlines and on the TV news channel EuroNews during September. The spots will be shown in 6 languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Polish) and feature themes such as health, education, poverty and environmental sustainability. […] Commissioner Louis Michel said at the launch of the campaign: “The European Union is committed to do ‘more, better and faster’. We have taken the political lead in development to make poverty history. Between 2006 and 2010 we will increase annual development aid by almost 50% to over 66 billion EUR. Europe goes into the UN’s World Summit in New York next week with a clear pro-development agenda. To promote this agenda, we have chosen the slogan “Europe Cares�?.

Similar promotion campaigns are needed in other DGs such as the DG ECHO which is the world’s number one humanitarian aid provider. However, its case is much similar with that of DG Development in that it has a public diplomacy potential which hasn’t been fully utilized due to under-funding, under-staffing and not enough communications activity. Philip Fiske de Gouveia and Hester Plumridge give several examples illustrating the poor branding of ECHO’s operations: it did not receive enough public credit for its role as the first institution to reach the Asian Tsunami; it endures serious competition for aid visibility from USAID, as a much more centralized, experienced and better funded institution; and it has trouble enforcing aid visibility clauses in aid-receiving countries. They also cite an official at the DG who reveals that ECHO is recruiting only two information officers for communication work covering the entire continent of Africa.

While it is not part of the RELEX family, the Education and Culture Directorate General is also charged with important public diplomacy tasks, namely EU cultural diplomacy. The cultural exchange is particularly intensive between the EU countries themselves. It is carried out in the framework of programs such as Socrates , Leonardo da Vinci and others. Even if they do not constitute public diplomacy with third-countries, these programs provide valuable experience in cultural, educational and vocational exchange and might help develop similar capability with countries outside the EU borders. On the other hand, some of the exchange programs initially instituted for EU-citizens only are now open to third-countries as well, for example the countries from the European Economic area (Iceland, Lichtenstein and Norway), but also countries with Association and Cooperation agreements with the EU.

The partnership with the countries of Eastern Europe and the countries of the former Soviet Union is within the framework of the PHARE and TACIS programs respectively. The Social, Cultural and Human dimension of Euromed provides for a very well developed mechanism for cultural exchange and cooperation with countries from the Mediterranean. In addition, all countries of the Western Balkans, Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean and Central Asia are included in the Tempus (Trans-European Mobility Scheme for University Studies) program for university cooperation.

Through the June 2000 Agreement of Cotonou, replacing the Lome Convention of 1975 – 2000, the EU and 77 countries from Africa, the Caribbean and the Pacific regions pledge to preserve each other’s cultural heritage and values.

Based on the close cultural, historical and linguistic links, the EU is in close cultural and educational partnership with the five North American countries as well. Examples include the EU-USA Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training and the EU-Canada Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training . Individual programs in higher education have also been set up with Japan – The EU-Japan Pilot Cooperation in Higher Education , Australia – The EU-Australia Cooperation in Higher Education and Vocational Training , and New Zealand – The EU-New Zealand Pilot Cooperation in Higher Education .

Another program in higher education, open to third countries, is Erasmus Mundus . The program aims to support high quality European master’s courses with a “strong external projection�? in order to attract students and scholars from around the world. It also provides assistance for Europeans to study abroad. The program’s budget is 230 million Euro for the five years (2004-2008) of its duration. “In concrete terms, Erasmus Mundus will support about 100 Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses of outstanding academic quality. It will provide grants for some 5,000 graduate students from third countries to follow these Masters Courses, and for more than 4,000 EU graduate students involved in these courses to study in third countries. The programme will also offer teaching or research scholarships in Europe for over 1,000 incoming third-country academics and for a similar number of outgoing EU scholars. Last but not least, Erasmus Mundus will support about 100 partnerships between Erasmus Mundus Masters Courses and higher education institutions in third countries.�?

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